Garlicky Greens Recipe

If you love sauteed greens, give this recipe a go. I avoid overcooking, and throw plenty of garlic into the pan. You can use kale, chard, or spinach.

Garlicky Greens

Do you remember Nikki's sweet potato recipe from a couple weeks back? She recommended serving her sweet potatoes alongside lots of lots of garlicky, sauteed greens. I realized at the moment I went to publish her recipe that I've never posted a simple, tasty, everyday sauteed greens recipe here. I'm not exactly sure how this omission happened, but it did. So here it is, a quick, extra-garlicky kale, chard, or spinach recipe - your choice. Personally, I like my greens cooked for just a couple minutes (if that), so they retain a hint of structure, and plenty of color and vibrancy.

Garlicky Greens Recipe

I use greens quick-cooked like this in dozens of ways. Stir a few beaten eggs into a skillet of sauteed kale, and you're on your way to a delicious omelette or frittata. I sometimes chop the leaves a bit finer (pre or post saute), and add them to all sorts of soups and curries - you get color, flavor, and a nutritious boost. Puree the sauteed greens and you can whisk or blend them into yogurt, hummus, mashed potatoes, and dips. Any ideas from your end?

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Garlicky Greens Recipe

If you are using spinach ignore the stem instructions below. With spinach I simply trim any long stems. Also, feel free to make this vegan and/or dairy-free by leaving out the Parmesan cheese. Toasted almonds or pine nuts are a great substitution (or addition).

1 large bunch of kale, chard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (opt)
crushed red pepper flakes

To de-stem each leaf of chard/kale, grab the main stalk in one hand and strip the leaf from the stem all the way up with the other. I then tear the big leaves into bite-sized pieces, but you can use a knife for this task if you prefer. Wash the greens in a big bowl (or sink) full of clean water, rinsing and swishing to rinse away any stubborn grit and dirt. Drain, rinse again, and set aside.

Hold off cooking the greens until just before eating. Then, in a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add a couple big pinches of salt and the greens. They should hiss and spit a bit when they hit the pan. Stir continuously until their color gets bright green, and they just barely start to collapse - two, three, maybe four minutes, depending on how hot your pan is and how much structure your greens have. Then, just thirty seconds before you anticipate pulling the skillet off of the heat, stir in the garlic. Saute a bit, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and add a big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Taste, add a bit of salt if needed, and serve immediately if not sooner.

Serves 2- 3.

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I'm another "eat the stems" gal for chard; I slice them up into about 1/4" pieces and saute them for a few minutes to soften the fibers before I add the greens. I also often add soy sauce to the sauteed greens for flavoring.


I made this for an after Christmas day, family dinner. I paired it with the vanilla bean sweet potatoes. umm it was so delicious. I've already got requests for the greens again.

Kathleen A Stringer

wow i cant wait to make this, I normally make something similar but only with tomatoes,onion,and minced garlic, saute those things first then add the spinach some salt and hot pepper (a dash), it goes well with basmati rice. I never had it with cheese or pinenuts or even cranberries. But I'm gonna try it. Thanks Heidi.


В очередной раз спасибо, хорошие что есть такие люди как вы, которые дают дельные советы:)


I like to saute the garlic first in extra virgin, before adding the greens. The garlic browns up and caramalizes a bit to give the greens that roasted garlic taste.


I make them pretty similar, 'cept I slice the leaves very fine ....and roast them till crispy.... toast some sesame seeds and also add a pinch of sugar .... is a great way to coax fussy kids to start on greens .... goes well as a side dish with soup


Thanks for this website -- it's a bachelor's dream come true!


I too barely cook my greens. Grew up in the South and can't bear the traditional soggy version. My favorite style: with sauteed red bell peppers, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce! Perfect with grilled beef for a simple supper.


This is a staple at our house. Sometimes I throw in a splash of vinegar (usually red wine or balsamic, depending on the mood) for good measure. A splash of fresh lemon juice adds a bit of zing too! Thanks again, Heidi!


I tried this out tonight. Delish!!


Another simple way to get greens in, if you can't stomach all the garlic, is to steam or saute them, then with salt, olive oil and lemon juice, to taste, and serve hot... yumm! My 2-year old loves them this way.


This is a standard recipe in our place - it is so easy and SO good. I actually really crave greens sauteed like this...and I often cook some up in the morning to have with breakfast. Thanks for drawing attention to an easy green for week nights!

Micha .:. Scraping the Skillet

What great pictures! The greens have such detail in the shots... ~ Stacey


This is a staple side dish for us. I saute kale or chard with garlic and ginger and a little braggs. My kids love it.


Sounds delicious! I shall try this with the Swiss chard my husband is growing in the greenhouse. Green cabbage and leeks are delicious done with garlic and root ginger finely chopped, fried for a minute or so in a knob of butter in a large saucepan, turn the heat high, add a splash of water and the cabbage and leeks, put lid on and steam for 3-5 mins depending on how chunky the cabbage pieces are. Keep jiggling the saucepan so it doesn't burn!


TDyl - I had this same problem, but found actual measuring cups in Wilkonsons. I have also seen them in Robert Dyas. It is easier using these measuring cups than trying to convert the fab recipies ;-) Mandy


Great green dish.....goes well wit everythng right frm rice.Thanks


Why not try this? Spoon greens over creamy polenta, top with 4 tbs. very finely minced dried tomatoes (unsoaked), jimaca strips then with a good dollop of sour cream on top.


Perfect antidote to the buttery Christmas treats that seem to be making their way into every meal, workday, social gathering etc. Looks delicious!


We love kale here! has a great recipe for "Emerald City Salad"-- raw, chopped kale tops a bunch of chopped vegetables (red cabbage, red pepper, fennel, and parsley, I think), and then a potful of wild rice lays on top to wilt the greens. Then it's all tossed with a lemon-garlic vinaigrette. It's amazing!!! My friend turned me on to what I like to call "kitchen sink smoothies." Basically, in addition to the usual frozen berries, yogurt and juice, we'd add raw almonds, flaxseeds, shredded carrots, avocado, and yes, kale. These smoothies were often served as breakfast and lunch (sometimes dinner!) when my son was a toddler. I doubt there's an easier way to get so much nutrition into a 2-yr-old!!


for a quick easy healthy supper, i'll sautee greens and top them with a couple of poached or soft cooked eggs, and a some roasted crispy potatoes on the side. it's exactly what i want, often, especially with fresh farmers market eggs.


Have done a similar recipe but I first warmed the oil on low with the garlic in it. We like to have the garlic flavor through out the dish. Then went to high temp to saute the greens. Gives a broader garlic flavor. A few chopped, toasted almonds add a whole dimension. Try with fetta, gives it a Greek twist.


I love swiss chard (or whatever greens I have on hand) sauteed with chopped onion, a clove or two of garlic, some toasted pine nuts, and a handful of golden raisins. Sometimes I'll grate a little nutmeg in the mix or add half a capful of apple cider vinegar for a little zing. Another favorite is kale or collards sauteed with a little oil, garlic, and smoky paprika. It mimics the traditional greens-cooked with smoked meat flavor a bit. I'll probably make it on New Years day with some black eyed peas and cornbread.


These look so bright and fresh. I serve all my pasta dishes over greens of some sort. No need to cook, the hot pasta wilts them perfectly.


This is a staple at our house and pretty much with every meal, stems and all. asaxygirl: care to share your lentil recipe? sounds yummy, too!


Yikes! Way too much garlic for me. I find one or two cloves is plenty--and I am half Italian. I offer this kale salad discovered at a macrobiotic bed and breakfast brunch at the beach in south Jersey years ago: same greens preparation as Heidi's, quickly steam kale until bright green, cool and toss with whisked olive oil, salad spices, dash of mustard, good vinegar and enjoy cold. Even my kids loved kale salad. Enjoy those greens! Then there's "scadole n beans" but that's another Italian peasant garlicly greens story.


Yum! This was perfect with the white miso lentils I had for breakfast.


scissors also work great for trimming the leaves from the stem. then slice and dice the stems. beet greans are my favourite, but mixed greens are also excellent


For TDyl - there are many conversion charts on the web that have all the weights, measures, temps, etc. I discovered many of them when trying to find a way to convert a convection oven recipe for Black raspberry and macadamia nut cookies to conventional oven heat and time. Couldn't find what I needed, but after calling and emailing a few friends I learned what to do. :-) I hope this helps. The greens, by the way, look delish!


Also . . glad that Heidi mentioned stripping the leaves off the stem by hand. Excellent advice! Using a gloved hand makes it even easier. I then tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces, put them in a plastic bag and pull out handfuls during the week. Kale, one of the most nutritious foods available as well as abundant, seems to be indestructible.


great recipe. i use two slices of thick bacon chopped finely with the crushed red pepper fried until done and then follow the rest of the recipe


Love cooking my kale this way. The aphids love my garden kale so I started snapping off leaves for the compost bin, then sick of losing good food, I put some of less infested leaves into a plastic dish pan of warm soapy water. After a while the aphids "slid" off the leaves to the bottom. No more lost kale leaves! Hope this doesn't gross out anyone. The kale, by the way, keeps growing. My stalks are at least 3 feet high, like palm trees.


This is basically how I cook kale and swiss chard. Thanks for the tip about removing the stem by hand - I've been cutting it out and it takes forever. Sometimes I like mixing the greens into a bowl of polenta with mozzarella or parmesan. It's definitely comfort food for the winter months. (I made your lentil soup last night - so easy and yet so delicious!)


I am going to try it your way. My Mom used to make Kale growing up and it was cooked so long, it was super gross. I hated the texture, the consistency, it was a big pile of mush! And because of that, 25 years later, I have NEVER tried them again. Your picture looks much more appetizing. It sounds so simple too!


Thanks for this recipe Heidi, it will be on the Christmas table. Is there an easy method to turn American "cups" into weights and measures that the English could use? Many thanks in advance TDyl


I've been getting lots of greens from my CSA. One thing I've done lately is blanch and then puree them with nuts, garlic, and olive oil. I spooned this pesto over scrambled eggs and onto soup.


i made garlic confit yesterday and used some of the oil and a few of the cloves from it to sauté with kale and it ruled.


This looks delicious! I made wilted spinach recently with pine nuts and fell in love with the combination. I think some Parmesan would make it perfect.


This sounds great! I have done something similar, but they always seemed to be missing something. I think this recipe will really help. I often add some chickpeas at the end. Really good!


Fabulous side dish recipe! Thanks for continuing to reinvent veggies with your tasty and healthy recipes. I loved your vibrant green beans - I made them for Thanksgiving!


Absolutely delicious side dish. I made it while waiting for the pizza to be delivered ;) Totally lessens the guilt factor. I had something very similar while in Italy, but it was topped with a poached egg - a quick and easy dinner.


Can't get enough greens, that's for sure! I always eat the stems though, just chop them into tiny pieces and mix in! There's good stuff in them stems :-)

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

Gorgeous photos!


delicious recipe, your site is really amazing

Healthy Diet

Love garlicky greens. Use veg peeler to shave garlic t-h-i-n-l-y. Olive oil, warm the garlic, add the greens [tuscan kale is our fave]. then sprinkle sugar and balsamic for a nice agrodolce finish. So simple and so good.

jacqueline church

This looks fantastic! I cook kale in a very similar way, but before I start I marinade the about two cloves of garlic, about the same amount of ginger finely chopped and a large peeled tomato, diced, in the juice of half a lemon, before throwing them all in just before the end (actually, I usually throw in some small prawns with them but I know that won't go down here....!) Never occurred to me to use parmesan, or that much garlic, but I can hardly wait to try.... I think my liver will be crying out for some of this after Christmas.


This is exactly how I saute my kale and I also use the package mix from TJs: Sothern Blend of Greens from TJs (mix of collard, turnip and spinach). I saute exactly the way for 5 minutes on medium heat. After 5 minutes, I dump in the minced garlic along with some cherry tomato halves and saute for 1 minute more. Then transfer to a serving dish. I don't add the parmesan cheese though. It is so delicious with the cherry tomatoes. You can substitute the greens with sugar snap peas and it is equally delicious. I love leftover for my lunch the next day and eat it cold like a salad.


Thanks for a great post! This is my favorite food blog! I love garlicky greens and it's nice to try new ways of preparing them. Question, do you not use the stalks? In the past I've used them for stock or chopped them finely to cook with the leaves. Any thoughts on what else to do with them?


A small dash of nutmeg and creme, instead of pepper flakes, turns this into a different - but equally yummy - dish.


i love mixing garlicky greens like this with lentils or dhal for a garlickly dhal dish like masoor or toor dhal...after we're back from vacation, i'll try to post a recipe. One of the greatest comfort foods in my opinion :)

nithya at hungry desi

This is one of my favorite way to eat greens! I usually add cayenne pepper (instead of crushed red pepper flakes), and it gives it a great kick. I often make a little bit of this in the morning, drape it over garlic-rubbed toast, with a poached egg on top of it all. Yummm.

Amy C

This looks wonderful. Definitely on my list of tasty things to try.


i do something similar with mustard greens- though i boil the greens just a few minutes before tossing them in the skillet. and i always add a hefty sprinkling of cumin, too!


Yum! I saute beet greens and use them to top pita pizzas (delicious when paired with a couple anchovy fillets and an egg).


I love, LOVE dark greens with sweet potatoes. I recently posted at my blog about a sweet potato apple bake with a side of wilted greens that made me weak in the knees. I am a huge fan of chard, spinach, and kale, not to mention collard, turnip, beet, and daikon greens, and they do pair so nicely with sweet potatoes and squashes. My new favorite approach to greens, however, is Indian-influenced and designed to take the mickey out of the really strong greens, such as mustard greens, that I have a harder time enjoying. (Since we belong to a CSA, we get a lot of greens this time of year.) In any case, the approach is simple: Sautee some onion and some Indian spices (fenugreek, cumin, mustard, plus a small sprinkle of my favorite curry powder) in clarified butter, add the greens and cook down a little, then toss in just a little bit of leftover tomato sauce and a splash of cream. Cook it down, adding arrowroot to thicken if you need to. Sprinkle with salt. Devour. As you can guess from the motley ingredients, this dish was a happy accident that resulted from an attempt to use up leftovers. However, this recipe has allowed me to make peace with mustard greens. I never thought I'd see the day.

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

This looks great, and I can't wait to try it. I use leftover cooked greens for sort of a quick spanakopita--dock some puff pastry, add a layer of greens, sprinkle with some parmesan, top with another sheet of docked puff pastry, seal the edges and bake for about 20 minutes or so at 400F. Merry Christmas and thanks for the recipe :-)

christy Kramer

I love cooking spinach like this. So quick and yum! I usually throw some pinenuts and dried cranberries in with the olive oil while it heats then throw the spinach on top for a minute or so.


yum - THANKS! I'll be needing to eat lots and lots of Greens after all the sweets from the Holidays. Happy Holidays! :)


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